Friday, March 28, 2008

5 things I learned at Carribean Cove

1. There are 7,534 different styles of bathings suits on the market in America; only 4 people look good in any of them.

2. 10 is too young for a bikini that shows your ass cheeks even when worn correctly.

3. If the reports on belly fat are true, Indiana is going to be in trouble in about 10 years when most of the population won't remember who they are.

4. There should be a national holiday for the person who thought up indoor water parks for places where it's cold in the winter.

5. Even if parts of you spill over certain sectionsof your swim suit, you look beautiful having fun in the water with your kid

Sox talk

This morning I was getting ready for work Thursday in the bathroom while Jeff lolled in bed. The Red Sox are playing in Japan, so the game is on before we go to work. I’m surprised he made it in this week. Anyway, Ali comes in and crawls in bed with Jeff – neither one of them inclined to get going despite the ticking of the clock.

“Ali, look what’s on TV!” he says.

She snuggled close and agreed that yes, indeed, it was the Sox.

“I’m watching the Red Sox and it’s not even 7 o’clock in the morning. There’s nothing better than that, is there?,” he asked.

She looked at him and said, “I know something that’s better than that.”

He looked at her, askance. “What?!”

She leaned over, gave him a big smooch and snuggled closer to watch with him.

He had to agree with her. And then of course he pushed for more.

“Hey, Ali, do you know who that man at the plate is?”

“Yes, Dad. That’s Big Papi. You told me yesterday,” she said, with a sigh.

I think she's a fan.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Spring Break

Good weather is about to be sprung on us and we're preparing to celebrate in a big way. Tomorrow, Ali gets an early dismissal from school and we're taking her, Breanna Tabor and Jenna Tokash to a local hotel that has a water park inside it.

Ali, Bree and Jenna were best buddies during their 5 years at Day Nursery. They've celebrated each of their birthdays together. It was Kindergarten that broke them up; each going to a different school. Now their time together is hit and miss, but there's not a second lost each time they see each other. It's a lot of squealing and hugging and silliness from start to finish. Tomorrow should be hilarious.

Amer, however, is putting a crimp in our style. She's putting academics and Jenna's quest for her "personal best" above F.U.N. and not letting her skip school Friday so she can sleepover with us at the hotel. (Bree and Ali are attending schools that are closed on Friday; Jenna's goober school is in session.) My position is that Jenna will be at her personal best at the pool.

I have, rather ungraciously truth be told, bowed to the Mom, though, and I won't follow through (as threatened) and whisper bad things to Jenna. It's hard being a grown-up.

I'm sure I'll have more to add to this as we get the nearly 6-year-olds together again. Wish us luck for our little party!
After the fun at the water hotel, we'll pick Grandpa up at the airport and head to Chicago for some fun in the Windy City. We're all very excited to see him. Ali has great plans.

More later. Happy Spring!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

PhotoShoot Easter 2008

Alison and I spent part of this morning at the Hoosiers for Hillary campaign office. They’re just moving in, and Ali got her very own office where she watched movies while I happily did a tiny bit of grunt work for the campaign in anticipation of our May Primary Election.

On the way home, I almost wrecked the car after Alison started chattering away about her friend Madison. There may have been other near misses along the route, but this one even I noticed. Now I don’t have a thing against Madison. She’s just a little girl but she’s exposed to a whole lot more of life than Alison is and I don’t quite know how to deal with it. Whenever I get a troubling question from Alison, Madison is always at the root of it. “When are my things right here, you know my boobies, going to get big, Momma? Madison has big ones but I don't. I don’t want to wear that dress Momma; it makes me look fat and I don’t want to be fat. Madison says sometimes I look fat.”

Note to Amer: you may want to have some smelling salts on hand before you finish this.

Note to you nonBunconians: Amy gets angry at me when I give Alison the true facts of life and lives in fear of the day when Alison asks me how babies come to be. Poor Jenna will be in college when she finds out that Mom and Dad are Santa AND the Easter Bunny, that babies aren’t delivered via stork and that her mother may have one day by accident have actually had S.E.X.

The conversation as close to verbatim as I can muster:

“Momma, do you think I might get pregnant soon? " she asked. This is where I almost drove off the road. She continued, barely breathing.

"Madison says you never know when a girl might get pregnant. She could be 16 or 18 or 11 and bam! She’s pregnant. You just never know. So I’m going to be very careful when I go outside because you just never know when a baby might get inside there and you’ll have to have it right there in the middle of the street. And you know, Momma, new little babies get confused. They think the first person they see is their momma, so if I’m out there right in the middle of the street with lots of people around and my baby gets out and is all confused and sees someone else, she’ll think that person is her momma instead of me. And what if she sees a dog or cat or a tree and thinks that’s her momma? Momma, how does that baby get in there, anyway?”

I gulped and thought of Amy and her famous “Look a deer!” line when Alison was detailing for Jenna how babies actually emerge. The distraction helped then, but Alison is used to getting the facts.

“Honey, I thought you were going to wait to have a baby until after you went to college and got married,” I say, praying for help.

“Well yeah, that IS my plan but Madison says it could happen any TIME. You just never know when it’s gonna happen. It makes my stomach have a nervous breakdown just thinking about it.”

“Is your stomach afraid to have a baby in there?” I asked.

“Yeah. It’s all nervous and scared. Momma, do you think I could have a snack when we get home?”

“Sure, honey. What kind of a snack do you want? We have ice cream and Gushers and bubble gum and Laffy Taffy….”

Thank God for a full freezer and cookie jar. So far, she hasn’t gotten back to the question. And yes I delivered on the snacks.

Amer, you can stop sweating… for now. You may also want to put a contract out on that Madison...

Happy Easter everyone!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

PhotoShoot Sunday 16March08

I watched the movie, "Juno" this week. I had seen the previews months ago but we hadn't gotten around to seeing it on a date night, and I had the chance to play hooky of sorts from work Friday and sneaked in to see it with my boss and a couple of other friends from work.

I was prepared for it to be fun. But it turned out to be a tear-jerker that reminded me how much I miss my dad. So in the zeal of some weekend Spring Cleaning, I found some old shots of him. My melancholy got started, I think, by my friend Scott at work who was making some fun of my squirrel days and remarked that my dad was a good looking guy. That naturally led to how old is he, which led to that awkward moment where you admit you're an orphan and your friend doesn't know quite what to say. So then I go to "Juno" and sit through some scenes where the dad could have been my father, and I was done in.

The shots today include one of my all-time favorites -- the shot of Dad and his brothers. I think James Dean must have known them. It had to be on Uncle Bill's wedding day because he's the one wearing the flower. My dad is on the left. Next to him is Uncle Eddie, who along with Larry on the end liked to blow stuff up (they stole dynamite from the coal mines) and hopped trains to do wild boy stuff in Terre Haute when it was Sin City. Jack is in the middle. He suffered some mental health issues when I was little and I never really got to know him but back in the day, I'm told he was fun. Bill is the flower child -- a Viet Nam vet who traveled the world and turned Republican on us. (heavy sigh) Don't they look like trouble?!

The other is the only proof I had that my dad ever played cards. The Fundamentalists frown on it, you know, but when you're in uniform, I guess you get a pass. My dad was stationed in Germany and on his way to a plane bound for Korea in 1953 when a sergeant came running and said "Unload 'em. The Armistice is signed."

Dad never talked about his time overseas. But I stole a bunch of old photos and documents a few years before he died, sat him down, interviewed him and made him an album of those days. He said he didn't play poker after he came home because he liked it too much when he was in Germany.

Unfortunately, his apparent card skills didn't translate to me. On the bus trip Friday to our work R&R, I got smoked at euchre.

The last shot is my Dad with Ali back when she had an ounce of fat on her bones. He loved her then; he would have just been head over heels now. OK, enough of this.

In other news:

Congrats to my friend, Lisa, who celebrates three years of incorporation and her thriving Gracie Communications.

Congrats are also due to Jonathan Swain, but it's his news, so call him if you want to know. The last time I outed news I thought was old, it involved Lisa and John, and I outed it to Jonathan. So I'm gun shy. But it's GREAT news.... Go Hilary!

I'm not usually one to forward videos, nor am I an Oprah devotee. But she's has a winner with this segment on a guy who offers some great life lesson advice. It comes to me courtesy of my friend Jackie who was too scared to watch it. Her doctor had sent it to her and she was afraid he was either telling her she was dying or breaking up with her and either way, she didn't want to know. It's well worth the click. P.S. Jackie: you're not dying or losing your doctor...

And finally, one particularly bitter morning I was driving Alison to school and she asked if Spring was ever going to come. I told her the old adage about March coming in like a lion and out like a lamb. On the way home from school Friday, she said looked around and said, "Mom, is it time for that lamb yet?" Amen, sister, I said. Cross your fingers that it is, indeed, finally time for the lamb. At least in Indiana. My family in Maine is still suffering. Air fare to Indy is cheap right now...

Sunday, March 9, 2008

PhotoShoot Sunday

Alison has been tightening her grip on her father's heart this week. She came home from school the other day, very excited, and told her Dad she had a surprise for him. "Be careful when you open it, it's paper," she warned, handing him a yellow piece of construction paper, fashioned into an envelope of sorts.

He unfolded it carefully, just as she instructed. Inside was a 1988 baseball card honoring the 1987 year of one Sam Horn, then designated hitter for the Boston Red Sox.

"Honey," he exclaimed, touched beyond words. "Where did you get this?"

"I traded a Littlest Pet Shop for it," she said. "I thought you would like it."

What she couldn't have known is that one of Jeff's haunts in his never-ending zeal to know all things baseball, is the Sons of Sam Horn blog. She just knows he loves the Sox. And apparently she loves him more than even her beloved Littlest Pet Shops.

I don't think Jeff stopped smiling at her all night.

But there's always more to the story, of course. And this ending comes from my conversation with her later in the day. She told me of the trade and how she happy to do it because she knew he'd love having another piece of the Red Sox and also because the LPS dog she'd traded was one of two identical LPS dogs she happened to have due to previous trades.

"You know Mom, I'm not a big fan of dogs," she said. A boy at school named Caleb, who is a fan of dogs, had no LPS dogs, but he had plenty of baseball cards. And so the exchange had been made.

"But then, Mom, you know what?" she said.

"What?" I said.

"Later, I saw that doggie sitting all alone, with no one paying any responsibility to him at all!"

"You did?" I said, not sure where this was headed.

"Yes. And so I told Caleb that I was going to take the dog back home with me until he could be more responsible with it," she said. "I'll see if he is more responsible tomorrow."

So basically, she shook the kid down. The dog is on the kitchen counter, destined for Caleb the Irresponsible tomorrow morning whether he mends his ways or not. The Sam Horn card is safely in Jeff's wallet, where I think it will reside until it falls apart.

So if you're Jeff, you're thinking it can't get much better than having your daughter bring home a Red Sox card. But no, there's more.

He was playing The Pogues, an Irish folk band, on Friday night when she wandered into the living room. "Hey, Dad, what's this music?" she asked, twirling about.

She loved the Pogues and I found the two of them dancing up a storm on the living room rug. Saturday she asked when they could dance to the Pogues again.

I think she could vomit on his favorite suit, wreck the car and decorate his basketball sneakers with a pink Sharpie and he'd still forgive her right now.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

PhotoShoot Sunday

With 20 days to go before we officially shut the door on winter, a beautiful Spring day came to Indianapolis today. We took a long walk and even sweated a little bit under what felt like a blissfully blazing sun. We made the most of it because snow is back in the forecast this week. Hopefully the local meteorologists will continue their losing streak when it comes to weather predictions.

We had dinner last night with Jim and Margaret Burlingame and Lois Stewart and Norm Young. All was going well when we realized it was 10:15 and Alison, who was with us, was still up and going strong. As we gathered our things to leave, Ali had a run-in with Daisy the dog.

Alison's never been a huge fan of dogs in real life but she's tried with Daisy, and Daisy loves Alison like she loves everyone who comes her way. I would like to find a way to help Ali lose her fear, but it seems to have come with the package. Daisy is a great dog -- still a puppy, really. I'm hoping that we can keep getting them together and maybe get Alison to stop being afraid from the outset.

While I was rescuing Alison, Jeff continued packing up our stuff and I'm confessing now that he (I'm blaming him) came home with more than we brought. The first I knew of it was a dinner tonight when Jeff thanked me for buying sun-dried tomatoes because they really made a difference in the salad. So stop looking for them, Margaret. They're not in your fridge anymore. Sorry..... (The cake was great, too.) I'll check Jeff's pockets for other stuff, too, and report back.

On a less criminal note, Ali and Jeff had a father/daughter dance courtesy of the local Brownies. They dressed up -- a little -- like cowgirl and cowboy and headed off for their date while I worked on a little project at home. As I was helping Alison get ready, I said something about how I used to be Dad's favorite date but that she was taking my place.

Disgusted, she made a face and said "Ugh, Mom. It's not a "love" date!"?" When she said "love," she drew a heart with her fingers.

I'm not sure when the kids started doing that, but it was pretty funny.

She tickled her Grandpa, too, when she was telling him about the circus she'd seen on a class trip and had discovered that one of the trapeze artists was named Alison. He asked her if she wanted to be up in the air flying around with the other Alison.

"No, Grandpa," she replied. "I'm not a trained professional."

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Shopping with Ali

So there I was sleeping soundly this morning when I heard sobs coming up from the basement. I thought it was a dream. Then I thought it was Ali coughing. But yeah, it was wailing. I trot down to investigate. She's discovered the loss of one of her Littlest Pet Shops -- Chi Chi the Chinchilla. The only thing left of it was its tiny striped stocking cap -- with two points to cover its oversized ears.

She was truly upset, but she was surrounded by literally dozens of other LPS family members, so it was difficult to join in the lament. We searched. We pondered. We checked the places we'd missed before. But no Chi Chi turned up.

And of course today is the day we shop for her friend Sarah's birthday party, and of course Sarah wants more LPS. So I made a deal with the neglectful LPS mother. If she'd help me on my errands -- really help me and behave at her very best -- we'd look for another chinchilla. Off she flew to get her shoes.

  • At the drycleaner's she was a jewel.
  • At Blockbuster she was a gem.
  • At the BP gas station, she cleaned out the trash in the back seat and threw it away.
  • At the recycling center, she was a vision of eco-friendliness.
  • At Walmart, she proved invaluable in the search for stage one of the perfect Sarah gift
But here I have to pause and admit that I hate Walmart. I go there, sure: stuff is cheaper. But these days, we have to pass by the fish in the pet section every time we go, and there were at least a half dozen of the little swimmers for sale who'd gone belly up. I thought it might freak Alison out, but she took it in stride. "I think there ought to be someone who could take those dead dudes out there," she said. "No one wants to buy a dead fish."

Not three minutes later, I thought I'd found a huge bargain -- a $20 LPS item marked down to $7. "Hey, wouldn't Sarah love to have this?" I asked.

"Mo-om. Who would want to buy that? The dog's head is already off," came the reply.

Sure enough. There was a decapitated dog inside the box. Maybe my standards are out of whack, but I think my local Walmart needs to keep the dead and dismembered merchandise to a minimum.

After escaping the big blue box store, I decided I should use a gift card leftover from Christmas and make a side trip to Kohl's, although I know Ali has little patience for stores without LPS or sticky donut sections.

"Coal!? But I haven't been bad!" she exclaimed. She calmed down quickly when I explained it was a different kind of coal.

  • At Kohl's, she bargain shopped like a trooper.
  • At Target, she happily helped with Stage 2 of Sarah's gift and to reward her good work, I let her spend $5 on a replacement LPS -- Chi Chi II has yet to be found in stores.
  • At Kroger (I couldn't bring myself to buy produce at the dead fish/dismembered dog Walmart) she helped find fresh fruits and vegetables and even swiped the UPC codes at the self-check out line.
Before we left the store, though, she shared a little insight I thought you might enjoy.

I was giving voice to Bright Eyes, the LPS dog Alison settled on back at Target. We'd visited the bathroom and Ali was telling the dog (me) about life. She'd just finished a dissertation on the life cycle of poop -- the dog was curious about why they were in the bathroom...

"Do you know why were in that room instead of this one?" she asked as we left the ladie's room.

"Nope," I arfed.

"Well, it's because we were in the girl's bathroom. It's just for girls. That other one is the men's room. It's for men and boys."

"What's a men?" I asked.

"Well a man is a little boy whose all grown up. I'm a girl. When I grow up I'll be a woman. And then I'll get married to a boy and I'll have a little baby. But I won't be a woman anymore. I'll be a Mom," she explained. "And then I'll be a grandma and then I'll die and go to heaven. It's a life cycle too -- just like the poop I was telling you about."

So there you have it:

People don't want to buy belly up fish or headless dolls. And people aren't that much different than poop when you think about it.

I need to shop with her more.